Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall today visited St George’s Church, High Street, Belfast. Upon arrival TRH’s were greeted by The Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast, Dame Mary Peters DBE. Throughout the day TRH’s were accompanied by the Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and his wife the Hon Rose Paterson.
St George’s Church dates from the early 1800’s. When His Royal Highness visited the Church twenty-one years ago it was in a perilous condition due to the bombs and trouble that the city had endured, and ambitious plans for its restoration commenced and are now virtually completed.
Moving inside the Church and accompanied by Rev Brian Stewart, Rector, St George’s Church and Rev William Odling-Smee, Honorary Assistant Priest, St George’s Church, TRH’s listened to the Church Choir singing Hubert Parry’s Anthem “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind”.
Proceeding to the Choir Stalls, TRH’s met Dr Emma Gibbins, Director of Music, and took the opportunity to speak to members of the Choir. TRH’s also met Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle, Trustee, The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, Northern Ireland; Canon Edgar Turner, Former Rector, St George’s Church; Tony Merrick, Glebe Warden; and Stephen Leighton, Architect. TRH’s went on to meet Belinda Stewart, Liz Waring, and Richard Crowe, members of the Church Restoration Committee and heard a brief overview on the restoration work to the church by Stephen Leighton.
Later TRH’s met members of An Cumann Galeach na h-Eaglishe (Guild of the Irish Language); Archdeacon Gary Hastings of Tuam and Rector of Galway; Marie Andrews, Director Abuba, Irish Language Children’s Theatre Company; Caroline O’Nolain, Development Officer, Church of Ireland Irish Language Guild; Aodan McPhoilin, Director, Ultach Trust; and Rod Smyth, student, Church of Ireland Theological Institute, Dublin.
In the Church Hall TRH’s met groups representing the following organisations:- Joseph Project Counselling Service, Mothers’ Union, St George’s Church Sunday Club Group, The Merchant Navy Association, Northern Ireland Mixed Marriage Association and St George’s Church Parishioners.
The Rev Stewart said a few words and invited Michael Clendinning, People’s Church Warden, to present HRH the Prince of Wales with a gift of The Book of Common Prayer and also a copy translated in Irish “Leabhar na hUrnai Coitinne”. HRH the Duchess of Cornwall was presented with a gift of cards, Ginger-bread men made by the Sunday School and a posy of flowers by Conor Brannigan aged eight, Meabh O’Mainnin aged eleven and Emma Stewart aged twelve.
Returning to the Church TRH’s heard the Choir performing the “Magnificat” by the Irish Composer Charles Villiers Stanford.
Prior to farewells and departure TRH’s were invited to sign the visitors’ book.
Notes to Editors
Upon arrival TRH’s were greeted by The Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast, Dame Mary Peters DBE, and went on to meet:
Alderman Ruth Patterson, Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast
Alderman May Campbell, Sheriff of the County Borough of Belfast
Mr Peter McNaney, Chief Executive, Belfast City Council
Dr Alasdair Mc Donnell MP MLA, Member of Parliament for South Belfast
The Rt Hon Peter D Robinson MLA, First Minister of Northern Ireland
The Most Reverend Alan Harper OBE, Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland and Metropolitan
Reverend Brian Stewart, Rector, St George’s Church
Reverend William Odling-Smee, Honorary Assistant Priest, St George’s Church.